Over the past few weeks I have continued in my role at my new College to engage with staff and pull and hook them in to the wonderful world that is teaching in the year of 2015. To have beeing trying to engage in tools and resources that enable them to be more effective in their role as teachers but also to enable and activate the learning of their students to a much higher level. And, for the most part, I think that I am succeeding. Albeit slowly. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
The great part of the above is that I have encountered little to no resistance from any of our 250 staff. They are more than open to discussion and are just as willing to listen to my ‘sermons’ and hear what I have to say and from what I have witnessed, headway is being made. Contact is made daily to me from them as their passion and drive to want to know and learn more is testament to their mindset, a growth mindset, to want to improve as educators and improve the learning of their students.
It is this notion of Growth Mindset, and the development thereof, that I wish to discuss. Very recently I read an excellent post via Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) titled ‘Twitter in the Classroom.’ Steve discusses how Twitter as an educational tool enables those students he interacts with gives them another great means of ability to communicate and converse online. The crux of this post comes as ‘someone’ remarked to Steve how they “they thought it was strange that I ‘interposed media between myself and my students.”
To finish off his post Steve remarks that “Twitter continues to be a versatile tool for good pedagogy. Those who reject it as frivolous or a distraction are often those who have seen poor use or have simply not given it enough time to see its relevance.”
It was that last comment that really hit home and got me thinking, non stop up until now, about how this issue, and it is an issue, of educators either being ‘burnt’ by technology, in this case, and therefore refuse to go near it again and those who do not give enough time to see the relevance in something.
Based on all of the above I decided to tweet Steve for a further thought or two around his post and two comments that I received in the string of conversation that was had were that “Teacher reluctance to use tech is a digital divide” and that there being a “psychological safety”. This last comment I feel relates to educators not wanting to explore new technologies, tools, and ways of doing things as nothing for them can fail if nothing new is attempted. Yes, it frustrates me to know, and I have seen it first hand over the years, that teachers think this way. And yes, there are many reasons I feel for this. Stephen Lethbridge (@stephen_tpk) who was also part of the conversations gave the following potential reasons of fear, lack of professional learning, and a lack of values seen in the technology of the day just to name a few.
It is this that frustrates me. The lack of, and here’s the part that will get that ruffling happening, educators willing to try, explore, change, tinker, alter, improve, rethink, challenge, design, and improve within their practice. The whole notion of a growth mindset is to seek and find new and relevant information that will have a direct positive impact on their professions and those around them, especially their students.
Knowles’ theory of ‘Andragogy’ as a teaching strategy that had been developed for adult learners there being a realisation that adults are self directed and expected to make their own decisions.
What then comes in to play is Heutagogy and either sits side by side and/or is intertwined with andragogy. Heutagogy is study of adult based self directed and self determined learning. The image below show the links between these very well.
Josh Stumpenhorst’s recent post ‘I’m done with it’, Vicki Davis’ post ‘If I am such a Teacher, why do I want to quit’, and Scott McLeod’s post ‘We have to stop pretending’, are just three recently read posts I feel for me and my thinking, link perfectly with the above. The frustrations, difficulties, challenges and, D. all of the above, that impact on our daily teaching lives make for complicated times. Yes, we are under the pump. And time is scarce. And we do not get paid enough for the hours we put in. And that’s not including the hours of overtime.
At the end of the day I just find it difficult to comprehend why good educators do to not strive to become great and those that are great strive to become greater. A greater growth mindset would go some way to achieving this. What’s going through my head now is how do we pull educators towards ‘wanting’ to know more and improve practice. We know that effective professional learning is difficult to come by these days and we can sit and discuss for hours on end what effective professional learning should look like. How do we as teachers work smarter, not harder?
All of the above essentially is about change. Changing mindsets, changing and improving practice and changing and improving the way in which our students learn. Like it has already been mentioned, that bloke called Fear often gets in the way with his mates Lack of Time, Crap PL, and No Support.
In answering I suppose my own question raised above, in arguably one of the greatest posts that I have read, George Couros’ post ‘If you are scared of change, ask yourself this question’, says it all. That simple!